Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Up Close: J.C. Leyendecker

This is part of an occasional series dealing with detail images of paintings featuring the brushwork of the artist. Previous posts can be found via the "Up close" topic label link on the sidebar.

The present post deals with J.C. (Joseph Christian) Leyendecker (1874-1951), one of the most successful illustrators during the first four decades of the last century. His production of cover art for The Saturday Evening Post, America's leading general-interest magazine at the time, was roughly equal to that of Norman Rockwell.

I wrote about him here. Some other links dealing with Leyendecker are here, here, and here.

Detailed examples of Leyendecker's finished work as well as some preliminary studies are available on the Web, but I thought I'd toss in a couple more examples here.

First is an illustration called "Florist" for the Spring 1920 Kuppenheimer Style Book, Kuppenheimer being a mens' clothing company. The second is called "Woman Kissing Cupid," and was the cover art for the 31 March 1923 Saturday Evening Post.

The source of the detail images is explained below:

* * * * *

The Kelly Collection has what is probably the outstanding holding of American illustration art by private individuals (not organizations). I was able to view part of it at The Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California towards the end of a January 12 - March 31, 2013 exhibition run. The collection concentrates on illustration art created roughly 1890-1935 and one of its purposes is to further knowledge and appreciation of illustration from that era.

Non-flash photography was allowed, so I took a large number of high-resolution photos of segments of those original works. This was to reference the artists' techniques in a manner not always easy to obtain from printed reproductions. (However, the exhibition catalog does feature a few large-scale detail reproductions.)

I thought that readers of this blog might also be interested in seeing the brushwork of master illustrators up close to increase their understanding of how the artists worked and perhaps to serve as inspiration for their own painting if they too are artists.

Below are images of entire illustrations coupled with my detail photos. Click on the latter to enlarge.

* * * * *

This image is from the Kelly Collection website.

This image is from the Kelly Collection website.

Leyendecker's style was unique to the point that other artists almost never dared to imitate it. It has been commented on by many observers, so I have no strong reason to add to such commentary at this point other than to say that I always found his work fascinating. My main reason for posting this is to note that the 1920 painting is showing cracking whereas the 1923 work, like most other Leyendeckers I'm aware of, seems to be in good shape.


Anonymous said...

Nice style.


Augustin Tougas said...


What a sharp drawer.